Evans Anyanga, 27, started his printing and branding business four years ago after graduating from the University of Nairobi, with a degree in commerce.
“Like many graduates, I started looking for a job soon after graduation, but a job proved hard to come by, and since I could not search forever, I decided to start a business instead,” he explains.
While at the university, he had been selling second-hand t-shirts to his schoolmates to earn pocket money, so he did not agonise too much about the kind of business to get into.
He admits that starting off was difficult, considering that he had no formal skills regarding how to run a business and just Sh20, 000 in his pocket.
He also did not have the equipment necessary to get a printing and branding business going.
“I started off by sourcing for small contracts and then outsourcing them to other small enterprises, since I did not have the equipment or the premises needed to get the work done.”
“The machines used in this line of work include screen printing machines for bulk t-shirt printing, heat press machines for branding of mugs, caps and t-shirts, as well as printers for general stationery printing. Each of these ranges from between Sh45, 000 up to Sh100, 000, money that would be out of reach for a young beginner.”
But his did not stop him from taking up jobs though.
“When I started out, I outsourced almost everything, but I knew that I would only make it once I got my own machines, therefore I started diligently saving up.”
Today, Evans, whose business, Omwami Graphics, is located in Kahawa Wendani along the Thika Highway, boasts of an assortment of machines, which cost him between Sh50, 000 to Sh150, 000. He also has three permanent employees.
His parents, who were disappointed when he informed them that he planned to go into business, are now respectful of the decision he made, since he is financially independent.
“My parents, like most, expected me to get a white collar job after graduation - they felt that my education would be vain, that it would go to waste, especially since the business I had in mind was not exactly related to what I had studied,” he explains, and adds,
“Even though my business is not yet where I envision it to be, I am able to pay my bills, pay rent for my business premises, I have created employment, and even better, I love what I do.”
COMES IN HANDY
His degree, he says, has come in handy in helping him run his business.
“Those four years at the university were not a waste; education opened up my mind, and enables me to knowledgeably interact with clients from all walks of life.”
His core clients fall under the youth bracket, young Kenyans on the lookout for trendy outfits, especially t-shirts with unique messages and designs tailor-made especially for them.
This year was especially good for business, thanks to the campaign period when material such as t-shirts, caps and umbrellas were in high demand.
“We also print on mugs, t-shirts, caps, plastic IDs, bags, CDs, hoodies, umbrellas and a host of promotional material.”
The cost of printing a t-shirt ranges from Sh800 a piece, but when buying in bulk, Evans gives his clients an offer of Sh400 per piece.
His day is usually spent at his business premises, where he oversees the work being carried out to ensure that it meets clients’ specification and that daily targets are met. He also does an inventory to take note of materials that need restocking. Once he has attended to immediate business, he turns his attention to marketing his business and sourcing for clients, which he mostly does online.
“Today, for your business to thrive, you need to have an online presence because that’s where everyone is; more and more people are shopping for what they need online, so it only makes sense to market your products there - we are on Facebook, omwami graphics, and on Instagram, omwami_graphics.
Evans recently added another feather to his young company’s hat: Omwami Wear, a clothing line.
“We design various types of garments, such as women’s tops, custom-made t-shirts, polo shirts, sweat shirts and V-neck shirts - the income I get from this side of the business keeps me going when other sections are not doing so well,” he explains.
His advice to a young person planning to go into business is to go in with a plan and a resilient attitude. He also cautions against starting a business just because someone else seems to have succeed in it.
“Before you start a business venture, do some research to have some knowledge about it, don’t just go in blindly, even if you have the capital to get started.”
“And if a job is not forth coming, don’t just sit around doing nothing, create a job for yourself, and as your business grows, you will go on to create jobs for others.”